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Thinking of buying a second home? Here's what you need to know about stamp duty

Thinking of buying a second home? Here's what you need to know about stamp duty
It's fair to say, at the time of writing, Boris Johnson has a fair bit on his plate.

But only a few weeks into his time as Prime Minister, Mr Johnson did edge away from the all-encompassing Brexit debate to take a look at stamp duty in the UK.

Mr Johnson was said to have told a meeting of Conservative MPs that stamp duty was "choking the market" and with transactions remaining down in London as Brexit rumbles on, he may have a point.

Media reports claimed the Prime Minister was considering reforms to stamp duty in a bid to kick-start the market, but it remains unclear exactly what his plans are.

So, we all wait with baited breath - not least those of you who could be considering buying a second home or an investment property in the near future.


Stamp duty on second homes

The autumn of 2015 sounds like a long time ago now, but that was when then Chancellor George Osborne first announced plans for a stamp duty surcharge on second homes.

The plan came into action in April 2016 and, since then, anyone buying a second home has been forced to pay an additional 3% in stamp duty.


Stamp duty rates on a second home

The additional 3% surcharge is added on to the banded rates of stamp duty, so how you much you pay still depends on the value of the second home you are buying.

Stamp duty rates are: 

Purchase price 

       Standard rate

    Additional rate

£0-£40,000

       0%

   0%

£40,000-£125,000

       0%

   3%

£125,000-£250,000

       2%

   5%

£250,000-£925,000

       5%

   8%

£925,000-£1.5m

       10%

   15%

£1.5m+

       12%

   15%



So, for a second home or rental property costing £300,000, you would pay £14,000 in stamp duty compared with £5,000 if it were your only property as the 3% surcharge applies to the property's entire value.


What properties are excluded from additional stamp duty?

The only way to avoid the stamp duty surcharge on a second home is if it's worth less than £40,000 - good luck finding a property with that valuation in London!

However, if you're buying a caravan or mobile home, or a houseboat, you pay no additional stamp duty.

And, of course, if you're buying a home to live in and have sold your other property, you'll pay stamp duty at the standard rates.


First-time buyers and additional stamp duty

First-time buyers, or renters thinking of purchasing a buy-to-let property, will be exempt from the stamp duty surcharge even if they don't live in their property - as long as it's the only home they own.


Buying a new home before you've sold your old one

This is a common scenario.

In a slow market where you're struggling to sell your home but have found a dream property to buy, some homeowners will buy before they have sold.

This means you will be liable for the stamp duty surcharge, even though you are still actively selling your original home.

However, the good thing is, as long as you sell your original home within three years you can apply to have the additional stamp duty refunded.


Owning a property abroad

If you own a holiday home somewhere on foreign soil, you will be liable for the stamp duty surcharge - even if your UK home is your only residence.


Inheriting a property

If you are left a property in a will, you will have to pay the additional 3% stamp duty if you buy another property - but only if you own more than 50% of the inherited property and don't buy another within three years.


Your main residence

If you are selling your main residence and replacing it with another main residence, you will be exempt from the stamp duty surcharge - even if you own a second home or a buy-to-let property.

Of course, your main residence has to be the property you actually live in or spend most of your time in and this would need to be proved to HMRC.


Joint purchases

If you don't own a property but you are buying with someone who does, you would still be subject to the additional 3% rate.

If you're married, there's no way around this.

But if you're not married or in a civil partnership, it could be possible for you to buy the property in your name only, meaning you and your co-buyer own one property each and are therefore exempt from the surcharge.

However, doing this could affect your mortgage borrowing potential and therefore your ability to afford your property.